A Solar Future

California is moving forward with plans that will make it the first state in the nation to require solar panel installation on all new homes and low-rise apartments built after 2020.

The plan will inevitably raise the costs of construction, but will save in the long run on utilities as well as help the state reach ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals.

So far, only the cities of San Francisco, California and South Miami, Florida have implemented such requirements.

The measure would exempt homes that are predominantly in the shade, but there are rebate programs in place for current homeowners choosing to install solar panels.

Although the measure would increase average construction costs by nearly $10K, it would save homeowners an estimated $19,000 in utility costs.

Many have decried the move as just another form of taxation, as well as yet another barrier to entry into the already highly competitive California real estate market.

However, we’ve made similar decisions in the past that have provided enormous long term benefits — like installing seat belts and airbags in vehicles.

Just like this solar requirement, we started off by requiring seat belt and airbag installation in all new vehicles. And yes, for a time it made those vehicles more expensive than the ones already on the market.

But after awhile, the opposite became true — people began to value the safety provided by those newer model cars, the price became worth it, and cars without seat belts and airbags became less valuable and less desirable over time until, naturally, there were no more cars on the market without those features.

This solar panel requirement will work in much the same way, forcing the market to shift towards solar powered homes through a combination of legislation and eventual changes in market demand.

California has, under Governor Jerry Brown’s tremendous leadership, maintained its commitment as a state to the Paris Climate Accord in spite of the president’s move to withdraw the nation from the agreement.

Requiring solar panel installation on all new homes and low-rise apartments is an important step towards reaching the state’s emission reduction goals and will provide new jobs in the California economy while systematically fighting climate change.

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